Behind The Phantom's Mask by Roger Ebert

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By Roger Ebert

Modeled at the paintings of Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins, this serial cliffhanger follows Mason Devereaux, a once-great, hard-drinking British actor, who turns into interested by the case of an on-stage homicide. unique.

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Sample text

I particularly liked Jack Carson as the more amorphous of two hoofers, and I thought Dennis Morgan made a good deal of his cold, com plicated partner. Ida Lupino I feel sorry about. She has fine moments, especially one of Zazu Pitts in Greedy but I felt too often that her favorite expression of strained intensity would be less quickly relieved by a merciful death than by Fx-Lax. It is good to learn that in spite of her casting as Emily Bronte, THE NATION 41 Miss Lupine still wants to play comedy, at which she is excel lent.

Boiling along on the handlebars of a motorcycle quite unaware that he has lost his driver, Keaton whips through city traffic, breaks up a tug-of-war, gets a shovelful of dirt in the face from each of a long line of Rockette-timed ditch-diggers, approaches a log at high speed which is hinged open by dynamite precisely soon enough to let him through and, hitting an obstruction, leaves the handlebars like an arrow leaving a bow, whams through the window of a shack in which the heroine is about to be violated, and hits the heavy feetfirst, laioclting him through the opposite wall.

The best one can say of it, with few exceptions, is that it tries on the whole to be "faithfuR to Saroyan; not invariably a good idea. The worst, in my opinion, lies less in its active failures of taste or of plain sense than in its easygoing, selfpleased, Mortimer Snerdish neglect of some magnificent op portunities. There are, as I say, exceptions. Most of them involve the one sound piece of casting and performance, that of Jack Jenkins as the four-year-old Ulysses, who, I fervently hope, will not be used again; otherwise he will become just another actor.

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